Flann was wakened by a gander and his flock of geese that stood round him; shook their wings and set up their goose-gabble. It was day then, although there was still a star in the sky. He threw furze-roots where there was a glow, and made a fire blaze up again. Then the dogs of the town came down to look at him, and then stole away.
Horns were blown outside, and the watchman opened the gates. Flann shook himself and stood up to see the folk that were coming in. First came the men who drove the mountain ponies that had lately fed with the deer in wild places. Then came men in leathern jerkins who led wide-horned bulls--a black bull and a white bull, and a white bull and a black bull, one after the other. Then there were men who brought in high, swift hounds, three to each leash they held. Women in brown cloaks carried cages of birds. Men carried on their shoulders and in their belts tools for working gold and silver, bronze and iron. And there were calves and sheep, and great horses and weighty chariots, and colored cloths, and things closed in packs that merchants carried on their shoulders. The famous bards, and story-tellers and harpists would not come until noon-time when the business of the fair would have abated, but with the crowd of beggars came ballad-singers, and the tellers of the stories that were called "Go-by-the-Market-Stake," because they were told around the stake in the market place and were very common.
And at the tail of the comers whom did Flann see but Mogue, the Captain of the Robbers!
Mogue wore a hare-skin cap, his left eye protruded as usual, and he walked limpingly. He had a pack on his back, and he led a small, swift looking horse of a reddish color. Flann called to him as he passed and Mogue gave a great start. He grinned when he saw it was Flann and walked up to him.
"Mogue," said Flann, "what are you doing in the Town of the Red Castle?"
"I'm here to sell a few things," said Mogue, "this little horse," said he, "and a few things I have in my pack."
"And where are your friends?" asked Flann.
"My band, do you mean?" said Mogue. "Sure, they all left me when you proved you were the better robber. What are you doing here?"
"I have no business at all," said Flann.
"By the Hazel! that's what I like to hear you say. Join me then. You and me would do well together."
"I won't join you," said Flann.
"I'd rather have you with me than the whole of the band. What were they anyway? Cabbage-heads!"
Mogue winked with his protruding eye. "Wait till you see me again," said he. "I've the grandest things in my pack." He went on leading the little horse. Then Flann set out to look for the King's Son.
He found him at the door of the Brufir's, and they drank bowls of milk and ate oaten bread together, and then went to the gate of the town to watch the notable people who were coming in.
And with the bards and harpers and Kings' envoys who came in, the King's Son saw his two half-brothers, Dermott and Downal. He hailed them and they knew him and came up to him gladly. The King's Son made Flann known to them, saying that he too was the son of a King.
They looked fine youths, Downal and Dermott, in their red cloaks, with their heads held high, and a brag in their walk and their words. They left their horses with the grooms and walked with Flann and the King's Son. They were tall and ruddy; the King's Son was more brown in the hair and more hawk-like in the face: the three were different from the dark- The Town of the Red Castle l93 haired, dark-eyed, red-lipped lad to whom the Old Woman of Beare had given the name of Flann.
No one had seen the King who lived in the Red Castle, Dermott and Downal told the other two. He was called the Wry-faced King, and, on account of his disfigurement, he let no one but his Councilors see him.
"We are to go to his Castle to-day," said Dermott and Downal. "You come too, brother," said he to the King's Son.
"And you too, comrade," said Downal to Flann. "Why should we not all go? By Ogma! Are we not all sons of Kings?"
Flann wondered if he would see the King's daughter, Flame-of-Wine. He would surely go to the Castle.
They drank ale, played chess and talked until it was afternoon. Then the grooms who were with Downal and Dermott brought the four youths new red cloaks. They put them on and went towards the King's Castle.
"Brother," said Dermott to the King's Son, "I want to tell you that we are not going back to our father's Castle nor to his Kingdom. We have taken the world for our pillow. We are going to leave the grooms asleep one fine morning, and go as the salmon goes down the river."
"Why do you want to leave our father's Kingdom?"
"Because we don't want to rule nor to learn to rule. We'll let you, brother, do all that. We're going to learn the trade of a sword-smith. We would make fine swords. And with the King of Senlabor there is a famous sword-smith, and we are going to learn the trade from him."
The four went to the Red Castle, and they were brought in and they went and sat on the benches to wait for the King's Steward who would receive them. And while they waited they watched the play of a pet fox in the courtyard. Flann was wondering all the time if the Princess Flame-of-Wine would pass through the court-yard or come into the hall where they waited.
Then he saw her come up the courtyard. She saw the youths in the hall and she turned round to watch the pet fox for a while. Then she came into the chamber and stood near the door.
She wore a mask across her face, but her brow and mouth and chin were shown. The youths saluted her, and she bent her head to them. One of the women who had brought birds to the Fair followed her, bringing a cage. Flame-of-Wine talked to this woman in a strange language.
Although she talked to the woman, Flann saw that she watched his three companions. Him she did not notice, because the bench on which he sat was behind the others. Flame-of-Wine looked at the King's Son first, and then turned her eyes from him. She bent her head to listen to what Downal and Dermott were saying. Flann she did not look at at all, and he became sick at heart of the Red Castle.
The King's Steward came into the Hall and when he announced who the youths were--three sons of the King of Ireland traveling with their foster-brother--Flame-of-Wine went over and spoke to them. "May we see you to-morrow, Kings' Sons," she said. "To-morrow is our feast of the Gathering of Apples. It might be pleasant for you to hear music in the King's garden." She smiled on Downal and Dermott and on the King's Son and went out of the Chamber.
The King's Steward feasted the four youths and afterwards made them presents. But Flann did not heed what he ate nor what he heard said, nor what present was given him.